Archives for posts with tag: dating

Mask Photo
by Jennifer Finstrom

            The truth is rarely pure and never simple.
                                    –Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

On March 7, you have no idea
what’s coming. It’s a Saturday and
your plans are to meet one man at
the Art Institute to see El Greco:
Ambition and Defiance on the first
weekend that it opens and then to
meet another for dinner at Miller’s
Pub. But you’re behind on grading
and you only go to the dinner part,
spend the afternoon in bed on your
laptop. This decision has nothing
to do with the men, but neither of
them seem to have liked your original
plans. You try to remember how you
explained it, know how good you are
at hitting a truth that doesn’t reveal
all but is nonetheless true. You won’t
see the exhibit now for months, if
ever, tie long scarves over your face
when you go out to walk alone, your
voice muffled by velvet, anything you
might say even more masked. And
here in poems you know you’re still
curating, only selecting what pieces
of the story you choose and no more.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Just this past summer I began a collection of ekphrastic poems about dating in my 50s. The direction the poems are taking is shifting in recent days amid the climate of uncertainty, but I’m still keeping on with the project.

Jen Finstrom pic

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Finstrom is both part-time faculty and staff at DePaul University. She was the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine for 13 years, and recent publications include Dime Show ReviewEunoia ReviewStirring, and Thimble Literary Magazine, with work forthcoming in Gingerbread House Literary Magazine and  Rust + Moth. Her work also appears in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks and several other Silver Birch Press anthologies.

My Front Door with Art
Gorgon in Cameo
by Jennifer Finstrom

          Maybe there is more of the magical
          in the idea of a door than in the door
                    “Doors opening, closing on us,” Marge Piercy

You lock yourself out of your apartment
about thirty days into shelter-in-place,
know as soon as the door shuts behind you
that your keys are on the floor. Since this
all began, you’ve given up the ritual that
had been part of locking the door when
you were going to work, wouldn’t have
forgotten your keys if you’d looked back
at the four small pictures that are the last
things you see as you’re leaving: drawings
of a rearing centauresse and two winged
Roman Genii, Pegasus in flight, and
the one you bought right after your divorce,
the head of Medusa in cameo, her snakes
small curls on her head. You daily asked her
to guard your place and guard your person,
but now no one is looking out for you, and
you’re here in the hallway with a winter
coat over your pajamas, on your way to
walk in the alley behind your building.
Last summer you went on a first date
for the first time in years, spoke a different
prayer as you were leaving, the words
“Army of witch queens, be with me” coming
unbidden. As you wait now for building
maintenance to let you back in, a new
prayer is taking shape. You want a different
life when this ends, but you’ll be so changed
that the words remain formless, and no
new or old door can yet open in response.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Last summer, I began a collection of ekphrastic poems about dating in my fifties. The direction of the poems is shifting in recent days amid the climate of uncertainty, but I’m still keeping on with the project.

Finstrom Picture

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Finstrom is both part-time faculty and staff at DePaul University. She was the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine for 13 years, and recent publications include Dime Show Review, Eunoia Review, Stirring, and Thimble Literary Magazine, with work forthcoming in Gingerbread House Literary Magazine and  Rust + Moth. Her work also appears in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks and several other Silver Birch Press anthologies.

First College Date
by Joan Leotta

My seventeenth September
saw me packing up,
leaving childhood,
for my freshman year at Ohio U.
Two weeks into my
new adulthood, standing
in a long line, I met a
real live boy from Cleveland,
fellow freshman who said,
“My friend and his girl are
going to Court Street (the bars!)
and then to a movie on Friday.
Would you like to come with me?”
My first college date!
That Friday night my roommate
helped me select a
matching skirt and sweater
ensemble — camel color
to show off my long dark hair.
From down the hall another girl
Colored my lips with the perfect shade
“to offset your too
much-studying pallor.”
(They already knew me so well!)
My date and his friends
picked me up at seven.
We walked to Court Street
chatting about dorm food,
whether we would stay to dance
at Steve’s College Inn,
or take in a movie after a beer.
We fell into line along the sidewalk —
lines to enter bars on weekend nights
de rigueur in Athens, Ohio, 1965.
One by one each duet and quartet
arrived at door for an ID check.
After minute of hesitation
over my out-of-state credentials
Mr. Doorman pointed at me and
bounced us all!
“You can’t come in — she’s 17!”
My protest resounded down the line.
“But I don’t even like 3.2 beer
I want to order a soft drink.”
He was adamant. Implacable. Obstinate.
All of those words.
We walked to the movie theatre
down the street and joined that line.
My date mumbled as he paid my ticket,
“Too young for the bar,
too old for child’s price.”
Don’t recall the film, only the
quick walk back to my dorm afterwards.
I wanted to assert, “I’ll be 18 in January,”
but I just said, “Good night.”
Never heard from that boy again.
After that night, I decided
seventeen at college needed an upgrade.
For my next date, I borrowed an ID
from a months-older friend so I could
get in to order my coke
while others suffered through
watered beer, returning to my
own identity only when the calendar
agreed with my self-assessment
of new adulthood, even at seventeen.

PHOTO:  Joan Leotta and her Dad — taken in her backyard in Pittsburgh, when she was 21 and could legally drink anything, not just 3.2 beer in Ohio.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta has been playing with words on page and stage since childhood.  She is a writer and story performer. When she is not chained to her computer, you can find her on the beach or traveling. You can reach her at and on  Facebook. Her first poetry chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, will be released by Finishing Line Press in March 2017.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Taken in May 2016 in Spain by my daughter — I am about to eat a pastry, which partly accounts for the difference in my width from that youthful 1970-ish photo and the 2016 version of me.

Training Wheels
by Shawn Aveningo

The old adage
rattled in her head,
her friend’s words
of supposed comfort—
Don’t worry;
It’s just like riding a bike.

But the last bicycle
she remembered riding
had streamers on the handle bars,
clickity-clack straws on the spokes
and a hot pink banana seat.

One more look in the mirror,
before stepping out
onto the new playing field,
which now didn’t seem quite so green.

She wished for
a pair of training wheels …

… and a padded, push-up bra.

IMAGE:  “Bikes and birds” by dinarachemaya, used by permission.

shawn (2)

Shawn Aveningo
is an award-winning, globally published poet whose work has appeared in over 90 literary journals and anthologies, including LA’s poeticdiversity, which nominated her poetry for a Pushcart Prize. She is cofounder of The Poetry Box®, managing editor of The Poeming Pigeon, and journal designer for VoiceCatcher: a journal of women’s voices and visions. Shawn is a proud mother of three and shares the creative life with her husband in Beaverton, Oregon. Visit her at

Bakery at the Corner of Sweet Street and Regret
by Elizabeth Alford

We were on the edge of winter,
balancing our friendship like a plate
on the edge of a counter.

I was the counter.

But I could taste happiness from the street.
The warm, smile-inducing cinnamon and
eau de vanilla seduced not only my nose
but those of endless

And the moment I stepped inside,
I knew I was in Heaven. A celebration
of cakes and cookies greeted me
like an old friend.
Every baked surface was draped
with ribbons of icing.
Even the walls were inviting;
my bulging eyes fell upon one close-up
of dripping red velvet atop a bed of
chocolate chips,
beckoning like a lover.
Fancily framed, majestically hued,
deserving of the Louvre—
if it had a kitchen.

I told her this joke; she was insulted.
The bakery was German-based.
That was the beginning of the end.

Across the street, a homely-looking van housed
a homely-looking hippie
named “Hippie Dan.”
I met him. Sweet guy, I thought.
Bright red beneath the brown,
like a cherry cordial.

I gave him most of my sticky bun.

I didn’t think to give him a toothbrush.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by a date at an actual bakery in Oakland, California. The name of it escapes me now, and I don’t even remember how to get there — but the sights and smells left a deep impression, as did that lovely homeless man parked across the street.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Alford has always had an on-again-off-again relationship with Poetry; but in the wake of her graduation from CSU East Bay, she recently announced that they are going steady (much to everyone’s relief). She lives in Hayward, California, with her loving fiancé, mother, and two adorable dogs. Her favorite things include sushi, loud music on long drives, staring at the stars, and writing. She has been published twice in the student literary magazine Occam’s Razor, once as a third-place Donald Markos Prize winner in 2014.

PHOTO: Elizabeth Alford in her backyard (June 2015), not doing too badly after that bittersweet breakup.

Credit: Cartoon by Mark Stivers, 2003, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Caption: “What a coincidence! I couldn’t help noticing you’re reading a book I was thinking of reading myself.” 

Credit: New Yorker cartoon by Frank Modell, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Ellaraine Lockie (pictured above right with poet Juanita Torrence-Thompson), author of the Silver Birch Press release COFFEE HOUSE CONFESSIONS sent this photo from her Saturn Series reading in New York City on April 22, 2013. Congratulations to Ellaraine on her East Coast reading tour, where she read from COFFEE HOUSE CONFESSIONS. A selection from the book is included below. Find COFFEE HOUSE CONFESSIONS in paperback and Kindle versions at

by Ellaraine Lockie

He asks if I’m Carol
A serious man squeezing a paper coffee cup
and smelling like an ad for Calvin Klein cologne
My denial so devastatingly disappointing
that he dashes straight to his Porsche convertible
And in despair peels out of the parking lot
Or his expectation so exceedingly unmet
that he chauffeurs disillusion and any further gamble
to his wheels of fortune and spins out of the game
I don’t even know the rules
But finish my iced Italian roast
Feeling like a woman who lied on her resume